Holy Well, Alderley Edge, Cheshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – SJ 8590 7786

Archaeology & History

In Roeder & Graves’ (1906) analysis of the neolithic remains surrounding this geological arena, they told there to have been “at least nine wells at different parts of the Edge” — this and the Wizard Well being the ones of greater local renown. Flints and the remains of neolithic man were found all round here.  Obviously the water from this well here would have been of primal use.

Alderley Edge's Holy Well in 1828

Folklore

In 1843, Robert Bakewell told how the waters from this famed well, “are said to be a cure for barrenness.” As well as this he reported how a large boulder fell from the Holy Well Rocks above it around 1740, and “a woman and a cow are said to have been buried under it.”  But a lengthier description came from Roeder & Graves’ archaeological essay, where they told how both the Wizard Well and this site, “were in ancient times connected with well worship.”  They continued:

“Their healing powers were considered to be unfailing: the barren, the blind, the lame, and bodily-afflicted constantly made their way thither; maidens whispered their vows and prayers over them, their lovers and their future lives being their theme.  Crooked silver coins were dropped into the well, but these have been cleared out long ago.  At present time the devotees are satisfied, in their economical habit, to offer mere pins and hairpins; the custom is not yet dead, for some of the immersed pins are still quite corroded and bright.  Some of the sex deposit the pins in their straight and original form, others bend them only at right angle, and as many again seem to consider the charm alone to act effectively when carefully and conscientiously doubled-up.  Maidens of a more superficial cast just the slightest twist to the object.  To judge from the state of corrosion and the old-fashioned, thick globular heads, some of these pins must have been in the well for at least sixty years… There are occasionally to be seen also a few white pebbles in the two wells.”

References:

  1. Bakewell, Robert, Alderley Edge and its Neighbourhood, J. Swinnerton: Macclesfield 1843.
  2. Roeder, C. & Graves, F.S., ‘Recent Archaeological Discoveries at Alderley Edge,’ in Trans. Lancs & Cheshire Antiq. Soc., 1906.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Holy Well

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Holy Well 53.297590, -2.213049 Holy Well